Just Me invited us to respond to Jack Townsend’s invitation to comment on an Open Forum; here is my comment awaiting approval:
I was born in the United States and lived there until I began graduate work in Canada in 1986. On February 28, 2011, I relinquished my United States citizenship because of HEROES (2008), and its requirement of an exit tax which is a violation of United States expatriation Act of 1868, the Freedom of Emigration in East-West Trade (USC Title 19 § 2432), and international law–particularly when applied to someone like me, who has all his wealth in another country, Canada, where it is part of the Canadian tax system and was never earned in the United States. Was HEROES designed to destroy my life? I decided I had to relinquish my United States citizen before I became a covered expatriate, in order to protect my wife and her wealth, not just my own. You see, I am married to a Canadian, and she is the top earner in my family. HEROES is the financial version of the Berlin Wall, an attempt to keep rich Americans in the country. But it affects normal every day US citizens living in other countries.
I was once proud to be an American. Now I experience only deep frustration with my former citizenship. It is because of the laws passed by Congress. Take for example FBAR. It is a violation of the spirit of the 4th Amendment, which requires that information of this sort be handed over to the government only because of a specific warrant with the person’s name on it. It is a general warrant treating everyone with foreign accounts as though they were suspects of a crime. Handing over the account information at this point, now belated because I didn’t know about FBAR requirement, is a violation of my Fifth Amendment rights not to incriminate myself (I am not the only one saying this, but some courts seem to be agreeing with this view). So if a major criminal like a Tony Soprano could plead the Fifth to avoid FBAR, how much more a law abiding citizen living in a foreign country? This law is an extreme violation of the constitutional rights of law abiding United States persons living abroad.
By the way, I have indeed filed my taxes for the last 10 years at least. I have been in compliance. It is a colossal waste of time and money both for me and the US taxpayer, because I’ve never owed anything. But the filing requirements on citizens abroad, especially those who own businesses, and the non-exemption of the Canadian Tax Free Savings Account, were other factors forcing me to relinquish my United States citizenship. Now that I am no longer a US person, I have opened a business, and I am able to enjoy the same rights and privileges (i.e., tax breaks) that other Canadians enjoy. This is a high tax country. I am not avoiding taxes by living in Canada. I came here to study, and I met my wife. So I stayed. Is that un-American?
Let me say this: I used to love the United States and the American people. Now my feeling is not love at all but a deep resentment for the treatment of expats around the world, but especially of those in my adopted country of Canada. I, along with five other Canadians experiencing similar issues, started a website called the Isaac Brock Society. We protest the treatment of US persons abroad. Only one other country has extra-territorial taxation of its citizens: Eritrea–and the United States has condemned Eritrea’s extra-territorial tax on the official record. Well, I condemn the United States for taxing its citizens abroad. It is an odious practice that has lead to great economical harm to the United States, due to it citizens being unable to live freely in other countries and therefore be able to expand the United States’ missions and exports around the world.
Now recently, the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure program has been used to attack law-abiding residents of Canada and other countries who happen to be US persons. It has created a great dread among us, and many of us are renouncing our US citizenship, and will experience lifelong scars as a result of the shoddy treatment that we have received at the hands of the United States government. The laws have made anti-Americans out of us. If bad publicity is what the United States wants, then by all means, continue with the current extra-territorial tax and offshore account policies. This means that few of us have a desire to spend our money in the United States; on Florida real estate, Disneyland, or Hawaiian vacations. Some of us who see apples from the United States choose New Zealand galas instead. Few of us retain any feelings of loyalty and patriotism towards the United States, but only a feeling of regret and nostalgia, of what once was and now has been lost. The greatest, freest country in the world has become a starving predator seeking taxes high and low, to the point of stalking its own citizens abroad. It disgusts me. And it offends my new patriotism for Canada whose tax base is being invaded by the extra-territorial claims of the United States. I will not stand by idly but I will fight this, because the well-being of my country and my compatriots depend on it. God save the Queen!